Hatching your own meat birds?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by auringer6, Mar 9, 2013.

  1. auringer6

    auringer6 Out Of The Brooder

    57
    4
    43
    Feb 21, 2013
    Hello,

    We are getting ready to start our own small family chicken farm. We are researching different types of birds. I have noticed a lot of people use broiler chickens. The problem with broiler chickens is that they grow so fast and they can reproduce. I would like to have a self sufficient farm. I would like to hatch my own meat birds. Do any of you have any suggestions for us?

    thanks in advance
    Clarissa
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    20,625
    4,121
    526
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Any chicken can be eaten. People eat quail and even the tiny bantams are bigger than quail. Many people just get mesmerized by size when they start talking about meat birds. I can’t argue that more meat is better, but farmers all over the world have been feeding their families eggs and meat using just mixed breed flocks that are not all that large for thousands of years. It’s just me and my wife but we can easily get two meals with a bit left over for my lunch off a fairly small pullet.

    The dual purpose breeds were pretty well developed for what you are talking about. Certain ones were developed more for egg laying and certain ones were more for meat, but with the invention of the broilers and the commercial egg laying hybrids, those differences have pretty much been lost. There is not nearly as much difference other than color and pattern in the hatchery dual purpose birds as many people believe.

    As far as I am concerned, get a breed or several breeds of dual purpose chickens and select your breeders that have the traits you want. If you want bigger chickens, eat your little ones and breed your big ones. If you want chickens that lay larger eggs, hatch larger eggs, not the smaller ones. Breed for the traits you want. You’ll notice a difference in a few generations.
     
    horsesNchicks and auringer6 like this.
  3. auringer6

    auringer6 Out Of The Brooder

    57
    4
    43
    Feb 21, 2013
    Thank you so much for your information, This is what I was thinking but I think I just wanted to hear someone else say. So I knew I was not crazy. lol.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    20,625
    4,121
    526
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    To me, the real issue in being self-sufficient with them has very little to do with the breed but more how you feed them and manage them. If you are buying all the food, you just can’t beat the broilers. Feed is expensive and the broilers are really efficient on converting that feed to meat. If you are really going to be self-sufficient they need to forage for a lot of their food, you need to raise it yourself, or you need to come up with some way to address this.

    As far as I’m concerned there is a lot to be said for knowing where your meat comes from. But that is not really being self-sufficient. Self-sufficient is about being able to maintain what you are doing. Money can be a huge part of that.

    Good luck!
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. bilder

    bilder Chillin' With My Peeps

    106
    12
    81
    Jan 28, 2013
    Phoenix, Oregon
    This is what I am doing. I bought a bunch of eggs from a local farmer and hatched 20 of them out a couple weeks ago. They are mixed breeds and are not production or meat birds by any means, but I will get eggs from the hens and the roosters will take an extended vacation at camp freezer when they get big enough.

    I may end up buying some meat chicks sooner or later, but for now I will be content to chow down on some mutt chickens.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,051
    53
    181
    Apr 14, 2011
    suburbia Chicagoland
    Something to consider:
    1. How many people in your family are you trying to feed? If over 4, consider getting meat birds some of the time - perhaps keeping some and cross-breeding into your existing flocks - which makes for larger flockmates, but not likely as large as parents. Some have done this well, some have not. I can take a 5# CX to church and easily feed 12-15people for lunch with it. But our dual purpose Black Java's cannot feed more than 5 fully. (Java's have less breast meat and therefore feeds less folks).

    2. How many times a week do you eat chicken? That's your base number of birds you need to have on-hand at any given time. We have a freezer just for meats (beef, vension, chicken, fish, lamb). I know that 25 birds take 2 full shelves in my freezer - that's cut up! I'm not sure how much room they'd take if they were whole. Do you have a freezer? Or will you 'thin as needed', meaning planning meals ahead knowing that Thursday you'll eat chicken, so the deed must be done on Sunday so the bird has time to rest in the fridge to let rigor pass. We eat chicken 2x/wk. With 25 birds parted up in the freezer, that's 20wks or so of meat - or nearly 5months. So, twice a year I'm raising 25 birds to put away for our family. That's completely possible to handle. There's the additional cockeral from the layer flock in there as well, so it's more like 60 birds a year total.

    3. How long can you stand the juvenille cockeral behavior - at about 7-11wks, they start crowing; at about 14wks start trying to mount hens; at about 20-26wks are a good sized table bird - but now, your hens are terrorized from all the bad rooster behavior! Unless you provide a 'cockeral only' pen which is out of view from the hens at all times. Even then, you'll still deal with some bad behavior - fighting and posturing and such.

    4. How are you going to feed these 'extra' birds? Feed is pricey - no doubt about that - but there are ways to cut down on feed costs. Fermenting the feed is one we use extensively and successfully; providing forage is another - but in the dead of winter, there's not much to forage upon here!; growing your own 'extra' chicken garden provides greens for the girls at relatively low cost - putting a raised bed that's got 1/2" hardware cloth over it and planting fast growing salad greens or grass provides some forage if they eat it all - but that's seasonal. What about dead of winter?

    5. What will your neighbors deal with? Ours found a hole in the fence and were finishing up after the neighbor's horses! Gads....Another neighbor (who isn't chicken friendly) is someone we have to constantly coddle with fresh eggs to keep nicey-nice. Often, people are harder to deal with than the chicken 'issues'!

    6. How will you deal with the 'extras'. Meaning, you're raising a set # of chicks - then most of the flock goes broody on you - now you have few, if any, eggs and LOTS of additional chicks to feed! It happens.

    7. Lastly, consider how self-sufficient farms worked in the past. A farmer would let the hens hatch as much as they desired - and forage for their feed with minimal chick feed - then come fall, would cull the flock down to the few they wished to keep through the winter and feed. Know what that number is based on your coop size and worst winter conditions imaginable. Ours is no more than 10 in the coop for the winter, based on blizzard conditions which kept the chickens indoors for almost 2 weeks. More than that, and hens get injured and health issues become apparent (ever try to scoop out fresh frozen pine shavings to muck out the coop in January?! It's hard!) It's a critical number to know!

    I hope this helps you in your decision making. We're working hard on self-sufficiency also - but do order a few CX and/or a batch of FR to add to our freezer supply is easy and makes it possible to enjoy our layer flock for what they are too.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. AgroUrica

    AgroUrica Chillin' With My Peeps

    120
    5
    81
    Feb 20, 2013
    I've been using something of two-prong approach with my chicken business. I buy commercial broilers that have been brought to market size (~2.5 kilos) and then put them on corn until they reach 3.5 - 4 kilos. From there they're sold live or dressed.

    Also, I'm now marketing my first batch of 300 broilers that I raised myself. As I mentioned in another thread, I sold the first bird at 37 days and will now sell the rest over the next week to ten days.

    I'm waiting to take delivery on a 640 egg incubator with the intention of hatching eggs for my personal use and also for outside sales along with commercial feeds. I can already see that it may be difficult for me sometimes to find quality fertile eggs to incubate so I'm already thinking ahead of producing my own if I'm forced to do so.

    Watching these birds get to about 4 kilos I can see that some would make excellent stock to produce fertile eggs. I'm still reading and learning about the process and if I do tackle the job, I'll do everything possible to get it right and am confident that I can eventually produce the eggs I'll need to keep the business going.
     
  8. JRader

    JRader New Egg

    1
    0
    6
    Aug 29, 2016
    for me the entire reason for getting started on raising meat chickens was of course a matter of eating quality meat and knowing where it came from but bottom line is just cost. I wasn't about to go out and pay up the hen for any specific breed that is supposed to be better for meat or better for egg production. I was able to start my entire flock being patient and either buying dirt cheap chickens that I don't know what breed they are or even getting free hens from people just trying to get rid of them. Honestly I really don't care what kind of chicken they are!! As long as they are benefiting you and your family then it's the rite kind of bird. I have a pretty good flock count and routine where if we need eggs then they go strait in the fridge when collected. Eggs are a steady guaranteed food supply. I do however have a large enough flock where I get plenty more eggs then we consume in a day so all the other eggs go in the incubater and will soon be chicken enough for a good meal. Also keeping tabs on what hens are still producing eggs and the ones that are not get demoted to the stew pot. But having new eggs placed in the incubater every few days means new chicks hatching and growing and being ready to process on a steady basis.
    I would say it is important to have a good steady egg laying flock established before you start chopping so that you will be able to keep both a steady supply of eggs and also hatch all the meat chickens you need and be able to replenish your egg layers as needed.
    And it can all be done without cost once you are all set up.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by